Author(s): Cecil Jenkins
When we think of France, we tend think of fine food and wine, the elegant boulevards of Paris or the chic beaches of St Tropez. Yet, as the largest country in Europe, France is home to extraordinary diversity. The idea of 'Frenchness' emerged through 2,000 years of history and it is this riveting story, from the Roman conquest of Gaul to the present day, that Cecil Jenkins tells: of the forging of this great nation through its significant people and events and and its fascinating culture. As he unfolds this narrative, Jenkins shows why the French began to see themselves as so different from the rest of Europe, but also why, today, the French face the same problems with regard to identity as so many other European nations.
In this broad and ambitious drama of two millennia, the characterization of the major players brings pungency and colour to every event. From Capetian kings to Republican presidents, from anonymous cave artists to celebrated writers and intellectuals of recent times it is the personality of politics and the politics of personality which make this book a particular pleasure to recommend for any voyage of discovery of the French past and present.
Cecil Jenkins was educated at Trinity College Dublin before becoming a French Government research scholar at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Paris. He has taught modern French literature and society at the universities of Exeter, British Columbia and Sussex, where he also served as Dean of the School of European Studies. While he has published in other fields, his writings on France include books on the Nobel Prizewinning novelist Francois Mauriac and the novelist, art historian and De Gaulle's Minister for Culture Andre Malraux.